June 22, 1998
Rural landowners should blitz hotline
While King County blithely ignores the complan policy that allows RA-2.5-zoned land surrounded on three sides by lots of less than five acres to be divided in accordance with its 2 1/2-acre zoning, it's going right ahead with another complan policy that calls for, among other strategies, combining "substandard" lots in order to eliminate about 8,000 building sites in unincorporated King County's rural area.
These "substandard" lots are mostly legally-created lots divided under our former acre zoning. The landowners paid huge county processing fees and subdivision costs for roads and utilities and ever-mounting annual real estate taxes. Nothing has been said about refunding past taxes or suspending future taxes on lots that one way or another the county is going to find "unbuildable."
While this is being done to "preserve the character of the Rural Area" on the one hand, on the other hand the county has forged full speed ahead on giving the big timber companies, whose forest-land taxes have been minimal, the green light for their huge rural-area developments with not only residential density bonuses but also commercial and industrial zoning.
Another adverse aspect of the proposed 1998 amendments to the complan is the winnowing out of previous community plan policies that are to be retained as complan policies. In the Bear Creek Community Plan area, for instance, all the policies favorable to the big master plan developments on Novelty Hill are retained, including the requirement for only 25% open space plus surveyed wetlands, while downzoned neighbors must preserve 65% of their land as recorded open space upon applying for a county permit.
Policies favorable to the neighbors are recommended for repeal, such as the one that would have allowed pastures in those neighbors' preserved 65% open space tracts, and the one that encouraged equestrian-related business in the Bear Creek area, and the three that called for active recreation programs and additional athletic facilities in the Bear Creek area.
Rural area landowners should blitz the 24-hour King County Council Hotline (206-296-1688) with messages saying they want to retain their present ability under complan policy R-207 to divide RA-2.5-zoned as described in the first paragraph without having to purchase development rights as now proposed. They don't want existing, legally-created lots smaller than current zoning eliminated as building sites via several proposed strategies. And they don't want repeal of community plan policies favorable to them.
Maxine Keesling, Woodinville